While there have been some bright spots for Georgia and Missouri, both programs find their seasons coming up short of the SEC Championship Game. That is particularly frustrating for the Bulldogs, who had designs on making the College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs (6-2) hit another snag in their plans when Vanderbilt had to cancel their game last week due to COVID-19 issues. So they haven't played in two weeks and now must go on the road to take on a fellow SEC East foe.
The Tigers (5-3), meanwhile, are hot property. Though they hit a few bumps here and there early on, they have since have won five of their last six games and snuck into the College Football Playoff rankings this week. Mizzou's most recent victory was a thrilling, come-from-behind affair against Arkansas in a game that amounted to a track meet. But facing the Razorbacks' depleted defense and Georgia's top-25-ranked unit are two entirely different challenges.
These two teams were set to initially meet on Nov. 14 but COVID-19 issues for the Tigers led resulted in the game being postponed.
No. 9 Georgia at No. 25 Missouri
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Spread: Georgia -13
When Georgia Has the Ball
The chameleon offense. Whatever offense you need, the Bulldogs now have it. With JT Daniels chucking it and Zamir White and James Cook lugging it, Georgia is starting to spark feverishly on offense. Two games ago Daniels threw for 401 yards in a 31-24 win over Mississippi State. Then last week, White and Cook combined for 188 rushing yards and averaged a staggering 9.9 yards per carry in drubbing South Carolina on the road. The offensive line is clearing large paths for the running game and protecting their QB much better. In other words, this means trouble for Missouri's Swiss cheese defense.
New go-to guys. Of late, it's the J-boys that have stepped to the fore in this Bulldog offense. The aforementioned Cook had totaled 155 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in his first six games of the season, but then exploded for 104 on six carries and two scores at South Carolina. Meanwhile, wideout Jermaine Burton had just 10 catches through the first six games this season, but in the last two games he has 11 receptions for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tiger D just looked toothless. Aye caramba, the Arkansas offense looked Hog-wired last week against Mizzou. The Razorbacks, playing without their starting quarterback, running back and tight end, put up 48 points and 556 total yards. Oof. And I mean the Arkansas running backs ran through wide swaths of the Tigers' defensive front seven, piling 292 yards on the ground alone. The good news is Mizzou will have its best player back in linebacker Nick Bolton, who sat out most of last week's game after getting flagged for targeting.
When Missouri Has the Ball
The 'Tree of life. This Mizzou offense has become much more diverse and looked more comfortable with their bowling ball running back Larry Rountree III leading the way. Last week against Arkansas he rumbled for 185 yards on 27 carries. In the Tigers' five wins, Rountree has averaged 138 rushing yards per game compared to just 62 in the three losses. If he and backup Tyler Badie establish themselves, it will be a good sign.
Get tough when you need to. These Tigers are no strangers to upsets, having already taken down the defending national champion LSU Tigers. But Missouri ranks 92nd in the country in turnover margin (-3 overall) and is 12th in the SEC in red-zone defense. Of 28 trips inside the Tigers' 20-yard line, opponents have scored on 26 of them, including 23 resulting in a touchdown. Both areas, along with not blowing defensive assignments, will need to be shored up if they are going to be competitive in this one and have a chance for a W.
Protect the youngin'. Tiger quarterback Connor Bazelak has come along nicely as a newbie behind center. He's connected on 69 percent of his passes and already has set a new school record for passing yards by a freshman with 2,002 and counting. But he'll be facing a defense that has chalked up 23 sacks and an insane 156 quarterback hurries. Mizzou's offensive line has gone through a bunch of injuries, so this won't be easy.
With the ramping up of the Georgia offense and Missouri's own attack hitting on all cylinders the last two games, this looks like it could be full of fireworks. So in situations like this, you always choose the team that sports the meaner, angrier, ornerier, smellier, nastier, ruder defense. And yes, that's the Junkyard Dawgs. Woof!
Prediction: Georgia 45, Missouri 24
Podcast: CFB Rankings, Coaching Changes and Week 15 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.